808 The Movie

Director Alexander Dunn
United Kingdom, United States / 94 min. / 2015 / English


Meet the Roland T808, possibly the instrument that has spurred the most monumental change in pop music (after the electric guitar). Gloriously detailed, this film rolls out all the DJs, rappers, producers and genres that used it. Rick Rubin, Beastie Boys, Afrika Bambatta, Diplo and Phil Collins put their finger on the pulse behind the button.


Ad-Rock Horowitz (Beastie Boys) goes into a second hand store to buy a Rickenbacker, guitar and leaves with a Roland TR-808 drum machine (or an 808 for friends in the know). It was the mid-eighties, and who could explain the seismic impact that this mundane piece of machinery would have on the future of pop music? Rockers always talk about the Fender Stratocaster, but let's see: few apparatus have been more influential than the 808. And the fact is, as many of those interviewed affirm, they didn't even sound like real drums! (their greatest attribute). This documentary, which is rather like a master class, explains it all in avalanching detail. All the styles, producers, rappers and DJs under the sun appear here. From the Miami Bass scene to techno and house, from Afrika Bambataa to Damon Albarn, Marvin Gaye, Phil Collins (yep!) Public Enemy, Man Parrish, Goldie and Rick Rubin (the first to take it to the outer limits); from "Sexual Healing" to Diplo. The founder of Roland, Ikutaro Kakehashi, also makes an appearance to explain how it works. And it's fascinating. 

O.V. subtitles in Catalan

Film web

Showing format

in festivals

Ikutaro Kakehashi, Rick Rubin, Hank Shocklee, Afrika Bambaataa, Phil Collins, Adam Horovitz, Mike Diamond, Jimmy Jam, Terry Lewis, Questlove, Pharrell Williams, David Guetta, Goldie, Damon Albarn, Fatboy Slim, Tony Carrasco, T La Rock, Tom Silverman, Tigra, Bernard Sumner, Lil Jon, Jim Jonsin, Diplo, Man Parrish, Felix da Housecat. Narrator: Zane Lowe.

Luke Bainbridge, Alexander Dunn

Stuart Birchall, Matthew Jarman, Alexander Dunn

Stuart Birchall , Claudio Rietti

Arthur Baker, Alexander Dunn, Craig Kallman, Alex Noyer

Film company
You Know Films

Film distributor

With the Collaboration:

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